Meditation Challenge: Day 1 What is Meditation?

Namaste and welcome to this meditation challenge.
I am honored you decided to join me on this journey.

What is meditation?

Meditation is being with what is. We can put that definition into practice by:
Meeting ourselves where we are, right here and now
and by,
Meeting ourselves just as we are
In other words, there is no need to add commentary to whatever you are experiencing.

Keep it Simple

Find a good spot where you can make yourself really comfortable. It is best if you minimize distractions and interruptions.
Pick a time where you can give yourself your undivided attention for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 1 Relax

Getting good at relaxing is essential to meditation. Otherwise, all you will notice is how tense you are.
Make things easier for yourself by letting go of your expectations. Expectations are old thoughts in your mind about what should happen. Instead awake to the freshness and uniqueness of this day.

If you would like to start with a little bit of movement to relax more easily , you may want to try:

Guided meditation below, when the recording comes to an end, take as long as you wish to enjoy the silence and to savor the effects of the practice.

Enjoy!

rubén

21 day Meditation Challenge with Rubén Vásquez

21 day meditation challenge with Ruben Vasquez
Even though yoga makes us feel good, most people find it difficult to practice consistently. This meditation challenge is an invitation to practice guided meditation every day for 21 days. This is one way to help you establish a consistent practice to deepen your meditation practice and to receive the many benefits of meditating.

How does it work?

Participating in this challenge is FREE. Just sign up for the challenge so that every day you can receive a reminder email with a link to a guided meditation. Simple. You practice guided by the recording and then you are ready for your day. If you wish, you can keep a journal to keep track of questions, insights, benefits and obstacles you are noticing.
If you have questions or comments I invite you to post them on the website. I will be glad to post suggestions and answers to your questions so that you and other participants can benefit.

I look forward to meditating with you,

rubén

Click to REGISTER >

Yoga Manifesto: How make yoga practice enjoyable, safe and effective

Pathway

 

 

Embarking on any journey of conscious learning requires clarifying what is it that we are doing, why and how. As a yoga practitioner I am keenly aware of how important it is to be clear on my answers to these questions so that I have good reasons for doing what I am doing and also to make sure that I am doing what I think I am doing.

This is even more important to me as a teacher because I want to ensure that I have logical reasons for teaching what I teach. This is one of my major motivation to keep studying, that is, exploring, learning and, most importantly, putting into practice techniques that enhance the quality of my participation in my life. I continually reflect on these ideas to guide my practice, my teaching and my life. This manifesto is one way to communicate this as clearly and concisely as possible.

What is Yoga?

YOGA : You Organically Growing in Awareness

Yoga is Presence. Presence is attending to every unique here and now moment of your life. Being present is a choice that only you can make. As we attempt to be present we start noticing restrictions and inefficiencies that hinder our ability to participate consciously, deliberately and wholeheartedly in our lives.

Yoga is one path to grow in our awareness organically. Organically means that we explore our options for thoughts, feelings, movements, breathing and interaction in a gradual and sustainable manner. As we find limitations, obstacles and restrictions we make adjustments to move beyond our current levels of understanding. Slowly our growing awareness results in more harmonious relationships between our body, mind, emotions and breath. We can see our practice as a combination of Self-Awareness, Self-Care and Self-Regulation. As a result, we enhance the quality of our participation in our life and live a vibrant, meaningful and wholehearted existence.

How to practice yoga

SIMPLE: Self-Inquiry Modulate Propensities for Life Enrichment

In all endeavors it is tempting to keep making things more and more complex. We keep our yoga practice simple. Yoga is one way to know ourselves thoroughly. We start by engaging in self-inquiry. We pay attention to our inner world and to our participation in our life. We notice our tendencies, some helpful, some unhelpful, some conscious, some unconscious. We learn to modulate our propensities so that all our actions contribute to enrich our life.

8 Limbs of yoga

What is the intention for practicing each limb of yoga?

Yoga is a complete system to ensure that we show up to our life every day, at every moment. We show up with our mind and heart open. As we notice our tendencies to close our mind and heart, we regulate these tendencies in thought, action, movement, breath and interaction to bring integrity, harmony and grace into all that we do.

  • We cultivate our capacity for kindness and compassion until, eventually, we learn to love life unconditionally. (yamas) This does not mean that we are passive or indifferent.
  • We cultivate our gratitude and inspiration until we live in contentment. (niyamas) This does not mean that we become complacent.
  • We enhance our natural capacity for moving consciously and deliberately without struggle, strain or self-judgment. (asana)
  • We become exquisitely familiar with our breathing processes. (pranayama)
  • We direct our senses masterfully. (pratyahara)
  • We concentrate steadily. (dharana)
  • We learn to remain effortlessly focused. (dhyana)
  • We integrate all of our systems by releasing all that we think we are or should be. (samadhi)
  • How do we practice yoga?

    We can choose to remember that:

    • We are whole and complete. We are enough.
    • We explore everything with playful curiosity to learn about all aspects of ourselves
    • We release strain, struggle and self-judgment.
    • When we move, we move consciously and deliberately.
    • Clarify the foundation of our life, in mind, emotions , body and respiration.
    • When we move, we engage gentle firmness around our joints specially when moving beyond our usual level of mobility.
    • We avoid pinching, forcing or squashing, especially at our joints.
    • We do the best we can without tension or agitation. We are clear on the difference between best and most.
    • We distribute our actions throughout our whole body.
    • How to keep our yoga practice safe

      What are some potential risks practitioners should be aware of?

      Any activity, even walking, when done carelessly may increase the risk of injury.

      Risk of injuries increase when you:

      • Struggle
      • Force
      • Overstretch
      • Hold your breath
      • Squash your joints
      • Pinch at joints
      • Move with momentum instead of control
      • Move mostly from a single joint

      How can yoga practitioners avoid injuries?

      • We know what we are doing and why
      • We pay close attention to our sensations
      • We learn to distinguish tolerable discomfort from pain
      • We breathe comfortably
      • We move with control
      • We clarify how much is enough
      • We choose our level of muscular engagement intelligently
      • We remain relaxed throughout the practice in body, breath, mind and emotion
      • We smile and enjoy our practice

      How can practitioners know if their practice is working?

      • During the practice we feel our whole body active
      • We notice our body warming up evenly without agitation
      • After practice we feel refreshed, relaxed AND energized
      • We feel more kindness, gratitude, compassion and love

      I hope that these ideas contribute to enhance your approach to your personal yoga practice.

      Peace,
      rubén

      Simple guided meditation with Rubén

       

       

Keep Meditation Simple: 10 minute video

 

 

Namaste,

Enjoy this 10 minute meditation observing the flow of a gentle breeze on a water lily pond.

Check out the video:

Other free videos:

May your day be filled with clarity,

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Meditation: Simple and Practical Suggestions

 

 

Namaste,

Growing research in meditation indicates that meditation can offer multiple benefits including, harmony in brainwave patterns, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, as well as increased blood flow to the brain. Having received many benefits from meditation myself, I want to make sure that others can also receive these benefits. That’s why I want to share a video and transcript of the first track in the Simple Meditations CD

Check out the video:

If you prefer the transcript:

Meditation is perhaps one of the best gifts that you can offer yourself. We often think that meditation is to bring the mind to have no thoughts whatsoever. This creates high expectations that are hard to live up to. Instead I would like to invite you to think of meditation as being with what is in other words meditation is to learn to be and to accept this moment just as it is/ Meditation deepens the intimate connection between you and your true nature. Please keep in mind that the most difficult part in meditation is to actually take the time to do it. So, give yourself the time to practice meditation by trusting that the world will be able to survive without you while you meditate.
When you are meditating relax and know that most likely distractions will happen, so when you get distracted it is very important not to struggle and not to judge yourself, just come back to the technique. It doesn’t matter how many times you get distracted, just keep coming back with no strain , no struggle and no self-judgment. This is very helpful in meditation. It is also very helpful in life.

You may use these videos to practice:

May your meditation practice be enjoyable and beneficial,

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Relaxing Yoga practice for better overall flexibility

 

 

Namaste,

Full range of movement is a conscious and deliberate exploration of healthy movement including very small movements, large movements as well as movements in between. Learning to move intelligently is one way of ensuring that we keep the joints healthy and free from injury.

This is a 60 minutes practice including exploration of full range of movement in various joints in the limbs and in your spinal column. This sequence is also directed to notice relationships between different body structures, arms, legs, shoulder girdle, hip girdle, legs and spine. In addition, you will cultivate coordination between movements and integration with breathing. Finally, the sequence guides you through some simple breathing techniques for centering, relaxation and calmness. At the end of the practice there is a brief guided meditation to make the practice complete and satisfying.
In yoga there is no need to strain, struggle or self-judgment. Try to make the movements fluid and graceful. Make your breath simple and easy. Enjoy the practice with a gentle smile.

Noticing the effects during and after the practice can help you ensure that the practice is beneficial for you. If you find the practice beneficial, consider trying to practice a few times each week.

Video

Enjoy the practice and its effects.

Peace,
ruben

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Yoga for Better Joint Flexibility

 

 

Namaste,

There is often a tendency to think that when we speak of range of motion in the joints we are referring to moving each joint to its maximum. In this sequence of 30 minutes the idea is to explore the different ways in which we can move the joints in our body. We can also use this practice as a way to observe how the movements in one part of the body are connected with other joints and muscles.

As usual, our attitude is to investigate with clarity, patience and fluidity the breathing and movements in this practice. Trust that you will receive all the benefits following these suggestions:

  • Do what you can, no more, no less.
  • Let go of struggle, tension and unnecesary effort.
  • Favor simple and fluid movements.
  • Breathe with soft and easy inhalations and exhalations.
  • Enjoy the practice with a gentle smile.

During and after practice feel its effects on your body, mind, emotional state and breathing.
What happens when you practice this sequence several times, maybe every two or three days?

Video

I hope that you enjoy your practice.

I hope you enjoy the practice and that it offers you some benefits.
Peace,
ruben

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Moving meditation: Dance of Shiva Arms and Legs with Movements in 3D space

 

 

As we continue the process of fine tuning our practice we may notice that doing the usual patterns starts to become easier. When even combining movement of the legs with the variations of movements for both the horizontal and vertical arm patterns becomes very familiar, it is time to start adding a bit more complexity. How do you know that it has become quite easy for you? If you find yourself thinking about other times and places, like planning your day while you are practicing, you will benefit from spicing up the practice so that your repertoire of movements, your coordination and focus can expand as well.

Some thoughts on learning

Learning requires stepping into less familiar territory. This means that we will make ‘mistakes’, we may move the leg to step two instead of three or we may get confused. This is an indication that we are moving beyond our comfort, which is the pre-requisite to learn. Like with learning anything else, it is a journey of discovery, and messing up, is part of the learning process. As we continue trying, we eventually figure out how to get things to move according to the new pattern. Then we can refine our movements and start playing with different speeds. The video below offers one possible pattern for moving the legs, and whole body, in 3D space while we continue using the already familiar horizontal and vertical arm patterns. Of course you can make up other combinations of leg movements.

Dance of Shiva Movements of Legs across Space in 3D rotation

  • Right leg moves up and forward
  • Turn to your left
  • Left leg arcs in and back
  • Right leg up and back to match the left leg

There are four leg actions that can match the four positions of the arms to take you around into a complete 360 degree turn. As you repeat the same leg pattern you have a chance to also modify the arm movements, so in the first turn you can go with arms forward (1-2-3-4), on the second turn you can move your arms backward (1-4-3-2), the third turn you can have one arm moving forward (1-2-3-4) and the other arm moving backward (1-4-3-2) and for the final turn you can reverse the arms. Of course, you can also explore starting with the left leg.

Video

In this video you can see an example of playing with the leg pattern that turns you around in 3D space.

As you probably know you can create all possible variations to help you stay focused while you expand your coordination. Remember to modulate the internal narration and commentary to a minimum.

I hope that you enjoy your practice.

As usual, please remember that there is a very complete DVD on the Theory and Practice of the Dance of Shiva by Andrey Lappa on Pranamaya.com.

Peace,
rubén

More Dance of Shiva articles:

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Moving meditation: Dance of Shiva Arms and Legs

 

 

The Dance of Shiva is a journey of expansion of our coordination, balance and ability to focus. When the patterns of Dance of Shiva become easy enough that we can think about something else while practicing, it is time to change the practice to continue expanding our coordination and processing capacity. We can move at a faster speed, we can change the pattern or we can add another level of complexity. Like in all aspects of yoga, rather than pursuing mastery, we are interested in engaging in mindful self-inquiry. A simple reason for this is to choose not to be stuck in doing things in only one way.

To add more complexity to the practice, the horizontal and vertical arm patterns can be combined with leg movements. Here is one basic pattern of leg movements.

Basic Leg Pattern 1:

Leg Pattern 1 Position 1

Leg Pattern 1 Position 2

Leg Pattern 1 Position 3

Leg Pattern 1 Position 4

Play with this pattern, moving forward from position 1 all the way to position 4 with each leg, then reverse the movements to go from position 1 to 4, then 3, 2 and returning to 1. The simplest approach could be to do the four variations of the arm movements combined with simple leg movements.

Combining Leg Pattern 1 with Horizontal Arm Movements

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 1, Leg 1

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 2, Leg 2

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 3, Leg 3

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 4, Leg 4

Of course, to add more options, the same pattern can be combined with the vertical arm pattern:

Combining Leg Pattern 1 with Vertical Arm Movements

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 1, Leg 1

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 2, Leg 2

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 3, Leg 3

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 4, Leg 4

Of course, the variations in arm movements can also be combined with changing legs and leg pattern direction. Since each leg pattern can be done in two directions, forward and back, then there are 2 movements with each leg, for a total of 4 movements. The leg movements then can be combined with the 4 directions in each of the arm patterns, vertical and horizontal. So that forward movement of the arms can be combined with forward leg movement. Then backward movement of the arms can be combined with the same leg moving backward. For the alternating movements, when one arm goes forward and the other arm goes backward, the other leg can go forward. Finally, as the arm movements are reversed the second leg can move forward.

Video

In this video you can see an example of playing with these two options in the Dance of Shiva

There are, obviously, many more ways to explore with these patterns as a way to playfully immerse in this inquiry. As usual, there is never a good reason to strain, struggle or self-judge. Just trying is a good way to quiet down the internal narration and commentary.

I hope that you enjoy these explorations.

Please remember that there is a very complete DVD on the Theory and Practice of the Dance of Shiva by Andrey Lappa on Pranamaya.com.

Peace,
rubén

More Dance of Shiva articles:

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Yoga guiding your life experiment

 

All of us are currently conducting an experiment with our lives. As Samuel Butler said “Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.” As we mentioned before, most of us are not very good at predicting the future, because uncertainty is at the core of life and living. Some people are more or less successful at dealing with the uncertainty of not really knowing how the experiment will turn out, while others become good at pretending that they have it all figured out and yet other people find ways to flow in harmony with the eternal unpredictability of life. Whatever the case, your life is YOUR own experiment, and you get to decide how you want to go about it. Over two decades ago I decided to use yoga as the framework for my life experiment. I am grateful that I found yoga, because yoga has been a helpful system to help me show up to my life every day. I would like to share with you what has been most helpful to me:

  • Yoga is presence. Yoga is being in this moment, trying to pay close attention to what is happening and to what I am doing.
  • As I try to pay attention I notice that I get distracted constantly. With gentle persistence I keep returning to this moment after each distraction. Returning to this moment works best when I return without strain, without struggle, and most importantly, without self-judgment.
  • Smiling softens everything and it reminds me that, like everybody else, I am running my own experiment and that, like nobody else, I have not figured it all out.

Showing up and doing my best, is really what yoga practice (and life) are all about.

You may ask, how do I know if my experiment is working? The yoga experiment is working when there is less physical, mental and emotional pain in your life and when you feel more at ease, more cheerful and enthusiastic to participate in your life.

And you, how is your life experiment going?

Peace,
rubén

Affordable Yoga Retreat Costa Rica

Simple guided meditation with Rubén